Friday, May 24, 2013

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

I had purchased asparagus with the intention of roasting it with shallots, but then I wanted to try something new.  After some searching, I found an intriguing recipe on Smitten Kitchen - Shaved Asparagus Pizza.  In my opinion, pizza is the perfect food, so this seemed like an excellent idea.

And an excellent idea it was!  The husband and I both loved it.  After eating dinner, I was posting on Facebook about how wonderful it was and our two friends down the hall just happened to drop by, and oh, what's that great smell?  ;-)  We found ourselves with some very willing taste testers who agree on the awesomeness of this recipe.

Now, I didn't follow the recipe exactly; I tweaked things here and there, but the recipe remains simple and delicious. So simple and delicious that I made it three times in the past week.  THREE.  I don't think I've done that with any recipe ever.  Well, except maybe this one.

I have a confession to make - I use a box mix for our pizza crusts.  I have some solid reasons though: 1) It tastes good and has a great crispy texture 2) It takes only a few minutes to prep, unlike from-scratch recipes that take at least an hour 3) It costs less than a dollar to purchase 4) You only have to add water, and a bit of flour for kneading.  Win-win-win-win!  So the Jiffy Pizza Crust is our stand-by whenever we make homemade pizza (a few times month).  If you're looking for it at your grocery store, it's usually by the pasta/sauces area, and not by the other Jiffy products in the baking aisle.

Back to the tasty pizza at hand.

I wanted to add just a little something at the end, and truffle salt fit the bill.  A bit of truffle oil would also work just fine.  Or you could skip it all together.  It's certainly not necessary, but I'd highly recommend it.  It really added the final 'wow' factor!

Shaved Asparagus Pizza
(from Smitten Kitchen site and book)
Makes 1 full size pizza - number of servings is up to you!

1 recipe your favorite pizza dough (I recommend a Jiffy crust for ease!)
1 fresh mushroom, chopped finely
1 Tbsp shallot, chopped finely
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan and/or Pecorino
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, chopped or ground - or use fresh
Truffle salt/oil (optional)

Oven: Preheat your oven to the hottest temperature it goes, or about 500 in most cases. If you use a pizza stone, have it in there.

Prepare asparagus: No need to snap off ends; they can be your “handles” as you peel the asparagus. Holding a single asparagus spear by its tough end, lay it flat on a cutting board and using a vegetable peeler (a mandolin would also work, in theory, but she found it more difficult to do it that way), create long shavings of asparagus by drawing the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks and don’t fret some pieces are unevenly thick (such as the end of the stalk, which might be too thin to peel); the mixed textures give a great character to the pizza. Discard tough ends. Pat asparagus dry with paper towel (I noticed my pizza got a bit 'wet' without doing this).  Toss peelings with chopped shallot, olive oil, dried rosemary, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Assemble and bake pizza: Roll or stretch out your pizza dough to a 12-inch round. Either transfer to a floured or cornmeal-dusted pizza peel (if using a pizza stone in the oven) or to a floured or cornmeal-dusted tray to bake it on. IF you're using a Jiffy crust, pre-bake the crust as directed (at 425 degrees). 

Sprinkle pizza dough with Parmesan/Pecorino (save a bit for the top) and chopped mushroom, then mozzarella. Pile asparagus on top. Top with remaining Parmesan/Pecorino. Bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, or until edges are browned, the cheese is bubbly and the asparagus is lightly charred. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle truffle salt or oil, then slice and eat.

We have this wonderfully long weekend ahead of us that usually involves some serious grilling.  If you're so inclined, this would likely be perfect for that!  Throw the whole dough down on an oiled grill and let it cook for a few minutes on the underside. Pull it off with tongs, flip it out onto a plate and pile the toppings on the grilled side, before sliding the raw side back onto the grill. Grill the pizza with the lid down for a few minutes, or until everything is bubbly and brown.  


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